Pi-Lot-es

pilates-3799327_1920I love Pilates. Once you learn the movements, you can do Mat Work anywhere. Bedroom floor, back yard, hotel room. I consider that it saved my life.

I’m convinced that I developed bursitis in my hips from an often-prescribed medication. I won’t name it, in case Big Pharma starts poking into my life. Let’s just say most cardio docs want you to take it. I can’t prove that it happened, but it coincidentally occurred right after I began taking it. I stopped the prescription quite a few years ago. The constant pain in my muscles and joints was not worth the small risk of not taking it. I had to stop exercising because of the pain.

And then I discovered Pilates. The manager of fitness programs at our rec center suggested I try it. The teacher was phenomenal and taught the Classical version. When I began the lessons, it was hard work. I was still on the drug and didn’t have a lot of muscle strength. I still had pain. Some in-depth research made me stop the meds and within three months, everything changed. Sure, I adapted to the routine, but the biggest gain was no more pain.

I love Pilates.

It’s been eight years since I first laid down on a mat and stuck my legs in the air. (Yep, most movements are like that.) You will hear that Pilates is all about core strength. They are not kidding. I am often amazed how much I now have. Why core strength? You might think it’s all about the abs. That is part of it, but it is so much more. From your neck to your knees, everything is connected and has the most impact on your daily life. Getting up out of a chair takes core strength. Good balance requires core strength. Lifting your arms in the air requires strength in your shoulder girdle. Without it, you might become one of those rounded-shoulder, shuffling elderly that we too often see.

Going to a class is fun. Since you are laying down most of the time, you can’t really see what anyone else is doing so there isn’t much competition. However, it is really impressive when you see someone do the inversions so effortlessly. You can do it by yourself. You can do it with a friend. (Sounds dirty, but it’s not.) You can do it however often you want. I try to do a short routine every night before bed. It helps to “untwist” me, so to speak, from my day. You don’t get all sweaty and cardio so it doesn’t affect your sleep.

A whole lotta Pilates is really good for you in every which way. Anyone up for the “Hundred”?

I Wants It

barbecue-2098020_1920You remember Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”. An emaciated creature who craved an empowered gold ring. A craving so intense that nothing else mattered. I doubt that even a junkie would be that far gone.

Cravings are powerful. I’m sure you’ve experienced them in some form or another. Like OMG, nothing will do but you have to have a bag of chips before you die of starvation! Not likely, unless you are on “Naked and Afraid”, and even then they would rescue you before death.

If you are of average weight and maintain it, cravings are fairly normal. They typically signify unmet needs for fun, excitement or love. Basically, you are bored and food fills a hole. If you struggle with being overweight or are a chronic dieter, then food cravings and overeating signal unmet emotional needs. Overeating often springs from anxiety or depression. I am not a doctor, nor am I providing a diagnosis, but if you struggle with these issues please see a doctor or therapist. Life is too short, and you are missing out on too many good things so make your overall health a priority.

Real physical hunger comes on slowly and your stomach tells you it needs fuel. Emotional hunger swirls in your mind and triggers taste sensations in your mouth. Poor nutrition, blood sugar swings, alcohol and drugs mess with your brain chemicals – especially serotonin – and cause even more cravings. Give your body the proper fuel and in return, it will provide you with energy and feel-good chemicals so you want to get out and enjoy life. Good trade-off, I’m thinking.

Lately, I’ve noticed that I have been overeating. Nothing extreme, but I’m looking a little poochy. Ick. And not for anything in particular as that points to different needs, such as salty-crunchy for anxiety. So I decided I needed to look into my need for food.

Sometimes we overeat for simple reasons: obligation – someone brought cookies to work and you don’t want to hurt their feelings; not wasting – you ordered the food at a restaurant and don’t want to leave a full plate, although a doggie bag is always an option; taste – it’s damn good!; boredom – snacky foods give you something to do; true hunger – eat too fast and eat too much; tired – hoping it sparks energy. These are a few of the reasons we shovel in more than we need.

Well hmm, I think those are my reasons.

I’ve b*itched about my work plenty, but it is a long day from waking to coming home. I have plenty of responsibility that goes from all-out-balls-to-the-wall to sitting and waiting. Anyone that does accounting work understands those cycles. During the boring times, I eat. During the stressful times, I work through lunch, go home tired, eat to refuel and have a drink to unwind. The perfect combination to build tummy fat. Because of all that, I have set aside some activities that I would normally enjoy doing – like I don’t have the time and energy for them. I know, practice what you preach. Eating has become the new enjoyment. Therein lies the problem.

Using food as a replacement for getting your needs met is a bad idea, but instead of focusing on food as the enemy search for the root. Give yourself permission to have fun. Schedule some free time in your day, just for you, to do something you love. Practice self-care. Give your relationships some attention. Hug your friends. Get out in nature and soak up a little sun. Maybe do some energy work. The third chakra – Solar Plexus – is at the navel. It governs personal power, so it may be said that a little tummy fat protects your power. Maybe your personal boundaries need a little work. The second chakra – Sacral – is directly below and governs pleasure, emotions and addictions. A definite connection. If you sit at a desk all day, like me, then the two probably get squished into one muddled energetic glob.

Hmm. Addictions ending up in the stomach. Better get up and stretch, but not for another cookie.

I wants it. . .

 

Mercury Retro-Gasp!

god-1293818_1280The blue screen of death just appeared on your computer. Your phone went dead for no reason. You lopped your hair off in a mad rant. The contract on your home has so many contingencies it will take a team of lawyers to decipher it. Your flight home just got delayed, which means you’ll miss your connecting flight and there isn’t another for two days. WTF.

Hello, boys and girls, Mercury in Retrograde has arrived. That cute little Messenger planet makes its periodic Michael-Jackson-Moonwalk around the sun, wreaking havoc on electronics, travel, contracts and communication.

Accidentally hit “Send” on that ranting email? Oops. You might want to follow up with an apology phone call. Or not. Exes have a habit of showing up during retrograde. Some things just shouldn’t be recycled.

Think this is all a load of bullsh*t? Au contraire, my friend, I’ve personally witnessed too many events to doubt its ability to screw things up. One trip to the Caribbean netted a bunch of Mercury meddling. A delayed flight. Landing a rainstorm. Room mix-up. And to cap it off, my phone died a mysterious death on arrival. Good thing there was plenty of rum at the bar. It ended up being a great trip just because we laughed and made the best of it.

Taking a chill pill is the best way to work through this cycle. This current one goes through July 31st, so plan on kicking back and enjoying the moment. Mercury’s gift is the ability to slooooow things down and since retrograde starts with “re”, think about all the words that do the same. Starting with Relax. It’s also a good time to clean up your sh*t too. Think recycle, repurpose, renew, hell even rent!

Take care of your electronics. Back up your computer and your phone contacts. Even get a service check-up on your car. Hey, its got electronics too! Mind your stuff so you don’t lose something important.

Don’t sign any contracts during retrograde unless you started the process, like a house purchase PRIOR to this cycle. Still, it is important to read all the fine print and make sure all the details are seen to. Don’t skip the inspection either. It’s not a good idea to buy a car or any other electronics during this cycle.

And for Gods Sakes, DO NOT in a fit of mad or any other emotional disaster, lob your hair off, get a tattoo or any other body changing process during a retrograde. Remember how long it took to grow out the last time?

Finders Keepers

person-3382248_1920Have you noticed that when you get older, it seems to be more challenging to make friends? Unless you are of the sort who has retained some forever, who didn’t die, or move away, or have challenges getting out.

I tend to be the type that prefers a very small social circle, and really, just happiest have a best-friend partner. I have the most fun when it is just Tom and me. Yet, I miss my dearest friend Pat, but not enough to relocate to Phoenix to see her regularly. Other people I know have busy lives, like me, so it doesn’t seem like there are many opportunities for socializing.

Some people just aren’t interested, no biggie. Then there are those nutty alone people (AKA crazy cat lady types) who can’t seem to shut up if you start a conversation with them and seem blissfully unaware that you might actually have a busy life and things to get done. And really, not too sure you want to get involved with them anyway, I’ve discovered, as they are usually very needy and cheap too.

Internet friends are great, too, and you can have good conversations, but you likely will never get to meet them.

Lately though, my mind has been drifting to some long-lost friends. I located one of them and we chatted for bit on the phone, but that’s all it has been so far. She was more buddies with my ex-husband. Her former partner was more my buddy. I have been doing some searching on the internet, pretty easy these days, and I think I may have located her. I need to make some time to try the phone number I unearthed. She might not want to talk to me. My ex wasn’t very nice to her and we lost touch. I wish I would have kept her friendship and ditched him sooner. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

It’s good to have a friend, or two, or twenty. Whether it is for fun times, or emotional sharing and support, companionship during activities – any or all of it is a basic human need. We are, by design, social creatures. We need contact in the form of voice and touch. The wiring in our brain functions better with human contact. Our health is better and we live longer.

When you find a good friend, who lifts your spirit and warms your heart, hold on to them even if your only contact is a phone call. Life is better when shared.

In Hot Water

broken-1294723_1280My lovely week off is coming to a close and reality returns to work tomorrow. It has been a great week; a nice balance between chores and leisure and what I hope for in retirement. However, there was one small hitch that caused me some anxiety. Our water heater quit working.

I enjoy a nice soak before bedtime. It’s very relaxing and it is nice to go to bed clean. Cold water is not what I had in mind.

Our water heater is only three years old, but has one of those fancy electronic controllers that decides when the water needs heated. It decided to go all stupid and shut itself off. So my Sweetie got to handle that chore and called the manufacturer. They gave him a list of service companies, and he found a guy who was able to arrive in two hours. He was timely and came prepared with a new controller box. As he was checking everything, he discovered a crack in the burner and had to go out and get a new part. He returned quickly, and before long, we heard the telltale sound of the water heater firing up. An hour later and I was blissfully standing in the shower with hot water spraying down. Relief.

As I was reveling in my bliss, I got to thinking how technology has changed home appliances and fixtures. Gone are the days of the furnaces with a burner and blower that lasted for decades. Electronics and their quirkiness routinely require service or replacement and seem to shorten the life of what they are housed in. Rather annoying. Then I thought about the cracked burner. Perhaps the errant controller sensed that all was not well and shut itself down. What seemed an annoyance could possibly have saved our home, if not our lives. You hear those horror stories of the water heater blowing up and shooting through the roof. The time spent dealing with the service call could have been time spent in the hospital.

So the next time some electronic device puts a hitch in my day, I’ll take a moment to be thankful that I’m not standing in hot water.

A Happy Space

I’m taking a week off from work. I have a lot of vacation time built up and I want to use some of it up before I retire in January. Plus, it’s great to get away from the stressful hustle. I chose to be home-bound for the rest and relaxation, and it is a sigh of relief. We’re hosting a neighborhood gathering tomorrow evening, and having a party Saturday afternoon with some friends. There is always a lot of prep for events, but I have plenty of time for it.

IMG_20190614_181516011 (2)I have several of these weeks throughout the summer. I am using them as practice for retirement. I knew that I needed some time away and I anticipated that it would be enjoyable, but certainly not at the level I am experiencing.

I am discovering an absolute true feeling of contentment.

IMG_20190614_181523173 (1)There are books, and articles, and videos, and podcasts, and so on, that speak of being happy. Do this, don’t do that, the list is goes on. Much of it is true, but it all comes back to how you feel inside. It is different for everyone. Sometimes the happiness is fleeting or short-lived. Such as that which comes from a thing, place or person. We all want the kind that stays with us for ever and ever. But what does it really mean?

It is how you feel at any moment, where you experience peace, contentment and relaxation. Your blood pressure drops, respiration becomes slower and deeper, worrisome thoughts seem to drift away, your gaze softens, and your senses relax. When I sit outside and look at my flower garden this happens. The colors, the shapes, the sheer beauty of the flowers overwhelm me. I become less aware of street noise and more aware of the tiny bees that roam from flower to flower. The chirp of birds. Perhaps one lands to take drink from the bird bath. Butterflies floating about. Time passes by without a thought.

I can begin to appreciate that the stress and striving brought me to this. That work and effort is important, because it brings safety and security, and purpose in serving. But yet, we must never lose sight of the need to fulfill our own passions and the necessity of self-care. Whether you are working or not, good health or bad, have many responsibilities or not, taking a few moments to find your happy space are as necessary as breathing.

Your soul will hug you if you do.

We Are Still Playing Barbie

Re-posted from October 9, 2017

08501960_01[1]Botox, collagen, fillers. Hair color, hair bleach, hair extensions. Waxing, tweezing, threading, plucking. Liposuction, face lifts, breast implants, ass lifts. (Ass lifts?!) It is a lot of work and expense being female.

I blame it on Barbie. Big boobs, tiny waist and those feet. Who has feet shaped like that anyway? It is really not Barbie’s fault. The shape of women has been something to fuss over for centuries.

I’m not against any cosmetic enhancements, only the overdoing of them. I have had my own share of treatments. And I did them because I wanted to feel better about myself, and they did just that. That should be the only reason you do these things – for You and You alone. Oh sure, we like having our friends and family tell us how great we look, but never, never, never should you invest the time or money in cosmetic enhancements just because someone else said you Needed it. If they cannot love you just as you are then maybe you do not need them in your life. However, it is worth looking at the core of this.

We too often attract people in our life who act as mirrors of our inner pain. If you consistently encounter people who do not love and care for you just as you are, then you might want to ask yourself if You love You. All the cosmetic enhancements in the world are not going to make you look better if you do not love yourself. Love your Sh*t and then your outer self will match your inner self and you might not need that boob job. Go get a massage instead. You’ll feel great and you won’t have to buy a bunch of new bras.

 

The Safe Zone

danger-851895_1920Do you ever find yourself feeling and acting overly-cautious about many things? “What am I going to do if the furnace goes out?” “What if I’m late for a deadline?” “What if a hailstorm destroys all my plants?” “What will happen if that car keeps following me too closely?” And then all these thoughts along with many more, generate lists of things to do and tasks to be completed as quickly as possible. Then you get stuck in an endless cycle of worry and doing, never giving yourself a break including the middle of the night panic.

Welcome to my world. Many of you are shaking your head while you are glancing at your to-do list. A whole bunch of you are like “WTF, get over it already”. And a whole lot of in-betweeners are just reading this to see what I’m writing about.

No, this really isn’t the way I like living my life. I’d like to be all Zen and not worry; just handle things if and when they occur. Being hyper-vigilant is not fun and it is exhausting. It is a difficult behavior pattern to break, and yes, it is a behavior pattern.

I recently read an article by Bethany Webster about being hyper-vigilant, over-achieving and anticipating problems. It all comes back to a lack of feeling safe. Bethany teaches about the Mother Wound; how it affects us and ways to heal it. Her website is http://www.motherwound.com. The Mother Wound is real, deeply rooted and particularly worse for women. Even if you had a wonderful mother, there are generational and gender wounds that are passed on. If you had a mother who was emotionally unavailable to you, then you were likely imprinted with the belief of never feeling safe.

Beneath the fear of never feeling safe, lies the core wound of trust. You learn quickly to be self-sufficient, never relying on anyone for support. If you couldn’t trust your mother, why could you trust anyone else? Your child brain can only envision danger ahead so you become highly sensitive and sensitized to your environment, reading others’ emotions with more skill than an NFL quarterback scanning the defense. You create your own “No Fly Zone” by carefully managing your surroundings so you can feel safe, secure and at peace. And raise holy h*ll if anyone moves anything out of place. Because you lack trust, you become an over-achiever and over-responsible because you expect others to fail you. You can do anything and everything and can make the Energizer Bunny give up. But do you ever take time to rest and relax?

Only when everything is done to your satisfaction, at least for the moment, or you are safe in your little nest. But even then “what if the electricity goes out?”

It takes a lot of work to change this behavior pattern. First, you have to face and feel the emotions that create the pattern and most people don’t want to go through this. Trust me, it is worth the pain. You need to feel this in order to accept that your mother wasn’t capable of being a mother. Seek professional help, even if you don’t trust them. That’s the point, right? Secondly, you must learn how to mother yourself. Rest when you are tired. Eat when you are hungry. And for God’s sakes, go pee when you have to go!

Force yourself to stay focused in the moment. Whatever is in the future will happen or not. If you focus on disaster, you might actually create it into being so why not focus on doing something happy and fun. Practice trusting others. Give them a small task to do and stay out of their way. If you are nutty about something, show them what you would like. Say “please, would you do this for me?” Only a total sh*thead would ignore you, and then maybe you need to clear them out of your environment. Talk about anticipating problems.

These days, with technology delivering things at lightning speed, the pressure is on to do everything all at once. Our inner wounds are easily triggered in this intense environment. When you are feeling especially anxious, stop and breathe. Give yourself a moment to assess whether something has to be done, if your anticipated worry will manifest or if you really are just tired and need to go sit in your safe zone.

Like I’m doing. Even if it’s writing this post.

Do You Remember?

pink-rose-in-rain-4205779_1920It is Memorial Day, the annual event to honor those who have passed on, particularly of the military. Memorial services are being held in many locations, some solemn, with flags and a lone bagpiper. Some more joyous and others even more somber. In any event, we are remembering those who have passed.

But what about those who are still living and have passed through your life? Friends, lovers, acquaintances? Spouses, significant others and even children. Memorial Day can be a trip down memory lane, with thoughts of “where are they now?” Such it is with human nature, life is a journey with many paths and many people. Too often, these missing and long gone folks left behind a scar or a bit of sadness. Only a few were able to leave behind the bright, shiny feeling of joy.

Whatever the circumstances, whether there is life or death, remember all of them with gratitude. Some people are with you for a reason, and some are with you for a season. Be thankful you knew them, because they helped you find room in your heart to allow someone else to fill the empty spaces.

Blessings to all on this remembrance day.

Rainy Days and Mondays

rain-84648_1920“Always get me down.” (The Carpenters, 1971) It’s been raining a lot, for the middle of May. Yes, I know some of you have been getting snow and I certainly don’t envy that. We plan on setting up our little pool next weekend and I’m wondering if we might get frostbite. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be stormy, just a dandy way to start the work week. Sigh.

The weather is always volatile this time of year. The planet is making its bi-annual tilt from winter to summer (or the opposite for the southern hemisphere). I realize the tilt is an ongoing shift, but the wild and wacky weather makes it seem as though it is happening within a month. I guess I could liken it to riding down the road, doing 70, in a convertible and without a hat. Mother Nature’s convertible is a little larger and she likes to get a little “showy” with the lightning strikes. Reminding us just who is in charge. I am always grateful to get through Spring without too much of a spanking.

IMG_20190519_132436966 (1)

The rain is certainly good for the garden. I’ve discovered that I really like growing flowers. Their beauty, of course, and just the riotous colors, shapes and sizes. With each bud, a surprise lies inside and you must wait patiently for it to reveal itself to you.

IMG_20190519_132612255 (1)We added to the perennial collection this weekend. A few things didn’t make it through the winter so they needed to be replaced. We also have a dead zone towards the front so instead of trying to suffer through another round, we put in some blocks and raised the bed. Naturally, it had to be filled immediately. I found this bright, candy red, small rosebush that called to me. I haven’t grown roses in, oh probably 15 years. I guessed that little bush was what I needed. The pots and the planters always get annuals and I change them up year-to-year. I could not resist the very fascinating fuschias even though the location might be a bit sunny for them.IMG_20190519_132640740 (1)

I am always excited when the buds appear. Flowers mean I made it through the winter and hot days are ahead. I love the laziness of a hot summer day. I love floating in our little pool. Dinner outside. Cocktails with friends. It’s sort of like recovery after a surgery. It just makes me feel good.

Thank you, Mother Nature, for giving us the rain so that I can appreciate the sun.